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Monte goes pro… again - KPAX.com | Continuous News | Missoula & Western Montana

Monte goes pro… again

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By Montana Sports Information

Since the early 90’s, Monte has been the Montana Grizzlies’ number one fan, motorcycle riding and back flipping his way into hearts of Griz nation like no other mascot in the country. He was even named the two-time National Mascot of the Year in 2002-03 and 2004-05.

After being recognized nationally for his talents, the Monte of ’02-’05 went on to star in the NBA as the Chicago Bulls’ beloved Benny the Bull for 12 hilarious years.

Now, after five and a half years of being Montana’s favorite bear, a new Monte has again turned pro in the NBA, this time shedding the brown fur of a Grizzly bear, and donning the silver fur of “Clutch,” the Houston Rocket’s beloved bear.

“I want to thank everyone in Missoula and the state of Montana for showing me so much love over the years,” said Monte, whose real identity remains a mystery. “I’ve had a blast working with everyone at the University, all the athletes and especially the fans. They are what makes all the hard work bear-able.”

Monte’s reputation as one of the best mascots in the land hasn’t gone unnoticed by teams around the NBA. When Clutch retired from the Rockets after many years of service, they called Monte at his den in the Rattlesnake Wilderness to see if he was interested in migrating from the mountains of Montana to the bayous of Houston.

A member of the Mascot Hall of Fame, Clutch has been the most beloved bear in Texas since 1995. Since then he’s won the NBA’s Mascot of the Year award in 2005 and 2013.

Much like Monte, Clutch and his sidekick Rocket Man make over 250 Houston-area appearances each year, and 20 out-of-town and international appearances as well. And like Monte, this busy bear can be found thrilling fans with high-flying dunks and entertaining crowds at corporate events, birthday parties, basketball games, pep rallies, and holiday parties.

Monte officially started his new job at the Rockets in early October and said the people at the Toyota Center in Houston have been very welcoming to a bear from the Rockies.

“I’ve had an amazing and very warm welcome. Everyone has been super nice, very helpful. It’s been an easy transition. Everybody in the Rockets organization has been great and have made it easy to transition from one bear to another.”

Since arriving in Houston, Monte… er… Clutch has wowed Rockets fans in two preseason games, and even traveled to Shanghai and Beijing China to participate in NBA global games against the New Orleans Pelicans.

This Monte is now the second loveable bear from Montana to make a career out of his shenanigans in the NBA after Benny T. Bull, and this Monte wants kids to know that it’s not all fun and games. It’s a real opportunity for a real career.

“I grew up doing gymnastics and being an athlete before honing my skills at the University of Montana in front of Griz nation,” says Monte. “I never knew it could lead to a full-time career in professional sports. I hope there are future Monte’s out there who hope to set their sights high as well.”

Luckily there is another Monte ready to following in the previous bear tracks, keeping Griz Nation entertained for years to come.

“Fear not Griz fans, I know the current Monte will continue to be as entertaining and lovable as ever.”

Montana’s Assistant Athletic Director for Marketing and Community Relations Brynn Molloy, who oversees the Monte’s antics, also believe the future of the program is in good bear paws.

“We are incredibly grateful to him for his service to Grizzly Athletics and to the University of Montana and wish him absolute success in the NBA. As “Benny” and now “Clutch” have proven, it is a unique opportunity for people to come have an amazing experience as Monte at the University of Montana and then have the opportunity to pursue a professional career as a mascot.

“We hope others who dream of being Monte will someday take the chance to tryout whenever we may have an open position again,” adds Molloy.

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